The first thing we did for businesses is we did not lock down – Gonsalves

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Some 420 businesses in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) have had to close their doors as a result of the impact brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, 2754 employees have been laid off.

Minister of Finance, Hon. Camillo Gonsalves disclosed this during the presentation of the 2021 budget estimates at the House Of Assembly Wednesday (Jan. 27) morning, citing information produced by the National Insurance Services (NIS) as at December 31, 2020.

Gonsalves also noted that other businesses have been affected and so, working hours and salaries have been reduced for various other employees.

Responding to a question posed by Member of Parliament (MP) for East Kingstown, Fitzgerald Bramble regarding the government’s effort to cushion the impact of COVID-19 for businesses, Minister Gonsalves said, “We did not lock down.”

“Obviously, the first thing that we did for businesses that was of use is that we did not lock down. And in not locking down, a number of businesses were allowed to operate and hire staff and stay liquid, despite the challenges.”

Gonsalves noted that when compared to similar sized businesses within the region, SVG’s businesses closures are fewer.

The Finance Minister informed that over 700 businesses benefited from loan moratorium programs and some 1900 took advantage of utility moratorium, among other initiatives.

Additionally, 2400 farmers, 2400 vendors, 450 omnibus operators and 400 tour/taxi operators received COVID-19 relief assistance from the government.